Article Raspberry Pi Pico vs. Arduino

Apr 13, 2023
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“Raspberry Pi Pico vs. Arduino: A Comparison of Two Popular Microcontroller Boards”
What Is Arduino ?

In a general perspective, Arduino is an open-source microcontroller platform. It was initially developed in 2005 by Italian designers Massimo Banzi and David Cuartielles. The Arduino platform has become a popular choice for hobby electronics and robotics projects due to its easy programming features, affordable price, and flexible design. Arduino can control various components and sensors. It provides users with Arduino IDE, a simple programming language for writing the code to be used in their projects. This way, even users without programming knowledge can easily create their projects. The Arduino platform can be used for many different application areas. For example, it can be used in smart home systems, security systems, robotic systems, automation systems, IoT (Internet of Things) projects, musical instruments, games, and many other area.

Raspberry Pi Pico vs. Arduino: A Comparison of Two Popular Microcontroller Boards

Raspberry Pi Pico and Arduino are microcontroller boards designed for different purposes. Both can be used for hobby electronics, robotics, IoT (Internet of Things), and other projects. However, the design, features, and usage of each board are different.

Similarities:

Processor: Both Raspberry Pi Pico and Arduino have a microcontroller processor. Raspberry Pi Pico has an Arm Cortex-M0+ processor, while Arduino has an Atmel AVR or Arm Cortex processor.

Operating System: Neither board comes with its own operating system. Instead, users typically need to write their own software.

Programming Language: Both boards are typically programmed using the C/C++ programming language.

Development Environment: Both Raspberry Pi Pico and Arduino have their own development environments. Raspberry Pi Pico has the Pico SDK developed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, while Arduino has the Arduino IDE.

Differences:

Price: Raspberry Pi Pico is generally more affordable than most Arduino models.

• Memory: Raspberry Pi Pico has 2 MB of built-in flash memory, while Arduino typically has memory sizes ranging from 32 KB to 256 KB.

I/O Pins: Raspberry Pi Pico comes with 26 I/O pins, while different Arduino models come with varying numbers of I/O pins.

Power Consumption: Raspberry Pi Pico is a lower power consuming microcontroller board. Therefore, it may be more suitable for projects powered by batteries.

Operating System Support: Raspberry Pi Pico supports Python-based operating systems such as MicroPython and CircuitPython, while Arduino does not support these operating systems.

Expansion Boards: Raspberry Pi Pico does not have expansion boards like Raspberry Pi, but Arduino can typically be used with such boards.

In conclusion, both Raspberry Pi Pico and Arduino are popular microcontroller boards designed for different purposes. Your choice will depend on the requirements of your project. Raspberry Pi Pico is a lower power consuming and more affordable option, while Arduino is more versatile in terms of I/O pins and expansion board options.
 
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OldSurferDude

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This sort of looks like an advertisement for the Pico. Full disclosure: I've never used a Pico, though I have considered it several times. I do projects that employ multiple small projects each are one or two tasks. I'll make the same list as above for my applications
  • A Pico can be bought for about US$6 an Arduino Nano for just over US$2.
  • Memory, this is important. Almost all of the projects I've done work on the Nano. Flash memory holds the program and RAM holds the variables. If your project is big, the Pico would be a better choice. Small, your throwing away US$4
  • I/O pins, I've never used all on a Nano, Same comment as memory
  • Power Consumption. In sleep mode I'm pulling 100μA. The Pico spec has it at 800μA. Where there is no power, there is usually sunshine. I use 18650 battery charged by a 1W solar panel through a charge controller. This costs is way more than the processor ($4+$4+$1)
  • OS. Again consider your application. Single tasks don't need an OS. Interrupts? Pico has one shared with the SPI bus, Nano, 2 dedicated. I wouldn't be able to use the Pico on my water meter project because of this. Language, Pico supports Python and C++, the former in a development environment not for the timid; the latter uses the Arduino IDE (how's that for irony?) This IDE is very mature and not difficult to learn. Nano is pretty much just C++. I'm not a big fan of Python, but that's just an opinion.
  • Again, an opinion. I use an ethernet expansion board in my NTP server project, mainly because there's a lot of connections that need to be done and the overhead of TCP/IP is on board ... NTP uses UDP ;) One big plus for expansion boards is that they have reliable connectors.
In conclusion, when I first looked into the RPi Pico, I was underwhelmed at the support. I'm hoping to be whelmed someday.

In all fairness, I'm using the Raspberry Pi Zero W (headless) as a crucial part of the my backyard environment data collection project. I chose this because the OS is well supported! (Alas, the W part stopped working. From what I read, this is common. So I use a USB to WiFi, which is also well supported)